Dramatic pictures emerge of fire at 400-year-old thatched cottage
PUBLISHED: 22:18 20 January 2019 | UPDATED: 22:36 20 January 2019
Dozens of firefighters are battling through freezing temperatures tonight to put out flames at a 400-year-old thatched cottage in Ardleigh near Colchester.
Nine fire crews from across Essex were called to Blue Barns Cottage in Harts Lane, Ardleigh, just before 5pm today to reports of a fire in the roof.
When they arrived they found the thatched roof of the building completely engulfed in fire, with 12 crews fighting the blaze at the scene.
Some were called from stations as far away as Braintree.
Hotspots within the fire caused flames to burst through the thatched roof as it was being taken down – with emergency workers just inches away from the blaze as they attempted to extinguish it.
Speaking at the scene, incident commander Lee Lucas said: “The only way to fight this fire was to pitch ladders up to the roof to remove the thatch – by the time we had done that it had broken through.
“We’ll keep removing the thatch so we can get to the timbers underneath and extinguish the fire that way.
“We’ve had 12 pumping appliances here tonight but we are now at a point where we can relieve these crews and six more will carry on fight this all night.
He added: “All the firefighters are using breathing apparatus and working at height rigs to stay safe in their teams.
“We are using a traditional form of firefighting – it’s our crews using forks to pull the thatch down, soaking it and extinguishing it.
“The dangers we have at this incident are the lack of light and cold conditions though the night so to mitigate this we’re using the thatch to line the road and stop the ice forming.”
Fire chiefs said no-one is believed to have been hurt as a result of the blaze.
An investigation will be carried out on tomorrow from approximately 9am, to start determining what caused the fire.
Station manager Martyn Hare said: “We also have crews inside the building, salvaging historical contents and protecting the property from further damage.
“Often thatch fires can take a lot of man-power to tackle and our firefighters are doing a brilliant job in difficult conditions.”
Mr Hare said the fire will take some time to completely extinguish and also expected crews to be at the incident overnight.